I acknowledge your letter of 3 November 1951, relative to the importation of Japanese goods, especially textiles.
At the present time the bulk of Australia's imports from Japan are essential goods required by the building industry, or to meet the demands of processors for basic materials or to cater for Australia's developmental needs. Adequate supplies of these goods are not available from other sources and it is in Australia's interest to take advantage of Japanese availabilities.
Australian exports to Japan have been well in excess of our imports from that country. Provision was therefore made recently for the issue of Traders' General Licences permitting the licensee to exercise within the limits of his licence free choice as to the nature of the goods imported from Japan. The maximum quota available to any firm under this arrangement is 1,000 for the period ending 31st December, 1951, so that imports of any individual goods will not be large. This decision was publicised at the time and has been referred to in Parliament and the Press.
I would like to point out that in general, Japanese goods, including textiles, pay considerably higher tariffs than goods admissible under the British Preferential Tariff and that policy in regard to trade with Japan is kept continuously under review.
A copy of a recent statement by my colleague the Hon. the Minister for Trade and Customs on the subject is attached for your information.